California Championship L1 Youth All Around

Sofia Margaryan / Shootin Fireball

Winning an California Championship All Around Champion award shows your strong desire to show. Which is your favorite class for you and your horse and why is it your favorite?

Reining is my favorite class for me and my horse Shootin Fireball aka Captain. The speed, adrenaline, different maneuvers, sliding stop and all the excitement that comes with reining makes it my favorite class. It also helps that Captain is such a willing partner. He is such an amazing athlete and has incredible stopping abilities. He gives me 100% every time we are in that show pen, he never cheats me  and he is a very large part of my success.

What challenges did you face in winning a CA Championship All Around Champion award with your horse – or was it easy to win? What advice could you give to other exhibitors hoping to win this prestigious award?

The most challenging part for me is to tame my nerves. I am extremely nervous and anxious before my goes. However once I am in the show pen all the noise goes away and I’m in a zone and I can only hear my trainer’s, Rick Kelley’s voice. I always say a prayer before I enter the show pen. The best advice I can give to other exhibitors is to have fun and stay in the moment.

How did you practice and prepare to show in the CA Championship show? How often and what did you do (ie: patterns, lots of ride time, go out on the trail – or have more lessons with the trainer?)

I am blessed to have Rick & Alison Kelley as my trainers. We spend 3-4 days a week practicing at home with different patterns, different maneuvers, and basic riding skills. We work on individual maneuvers, then work on combining everything together. It also helps to have such a wonderful horse, who takes care of me and makes me look good even when I make mistakes.

What is a special memory you have from the California Championship show? Tell us why this is special and what you’d like to see added for next year.

I would love to see more reining classes with more exhibitors. A special memory for me was that I was not expecting to win, even though I was happy with all my goes and I thought Captain and I did a good job. But winning it with all my family and friends being present was something I will never forget.

How long have you been showing and what is your next goal?

I have been showing since 2020. The goal for me is to always improve and become a better pilot to my horse. I want to improve on certain maneuvers and eliminate unnecessary penalties. I want to keep growing and learning from other mentors from our barn that have been riding for much longer than I have.